Some competition's have a well known 'celebrity' author as the judge. What that actually means, is that they are typically given the final shortlist to pick a winner from. I'm quite happy with that approach, and it has had three outcomes for me:
1. I've got to meet a couple of well-known authors when I've won a contest, and felt exceptionally flattered that they liked my work.
2. Many of these authors were kind enough to endorse my book when I published it
3. Sometimes, I've NOT entered a contest, because I knew the judge and thought that even if the results were blind-read, there would be some awkwardness and suspicion of insider dealing if I'd won.
At InkTears, we like to plough our own furrow, as they say (although I'm sure I've got that metaphor slightly wrong). We have ten judges, some of which have been with us since the very first contest, and others that change each year. The judges are a mix of writers and readers, of all age ranges (from 21 through to 80!). We don't announce our judges, although we are highly appreciative of their efforts.
This year though, I thought it worth mentioning that we have 5 published authors in our judging panel, including writers of short stories (four have at least one short story collection published), novels, and even a couple of best-selling Amazon self-help books! What's more, between them, these judges read all of the stories. Everyone's story will be read by both a 'reader' and a professional writer, to see if it makes our longlist. At the final stage, our shortlist is read by every single judge, and the winner is decided by a vote.
So there you have it! Not sure if that helps or hinders, but thought you might all be interested in the secret machinations that take place behind the curtain!